Metal Shark expands operations, seeks workers

A Metal Shark 25 Courageous boat under construction at the company’s new Avery Island facility.
A Metal Shark 25 Courageous boat under construction at the company’s new Avery Island facility.
A Metal Shark 25 Courageous boat under construction at the company’s new Avery Island facility.

U.S.based boat builder Metal Shark is expanding its presence in its home state of Louisiana with the addition of a third manufacturing facility and a new recruitment effort.

The expansion follows the recent divestiture of its Alabama-based ship refit and repair business, which it sold to Birdon America.

“Last year, Birdon America, Inc. approached Metal Shark about acquiring our Alabama operations,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. 

“They put forth an offer that made good business sense for us while providing long-term opportunities for our Alabama team members. With the sale of our refit-and-repair business and steel-boat-building operations now concluded, we are refocusing our energies and doubling down on our core business: the design and construction of durable, high-performance, manned and autonomous welded aluminum vessels.”

As a diversified builder, he said, “At any given time we’re producing boats for a wide range of markets including U.S. and foreign military forces, state and local law enforcement agencies and fire departments, and numerous commercial markets, including pilot groups, passenger vessel operators, and the offshore wind industry.” 

With a new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Iberia Parish, La., Metal Shark is looking to boost its production capacity. Together with its nearby Jeanerette and Franklin production facilities, the company now boasts almost 200,000 total square feet of enclosed manufacturing space spread across 35 acres with nearly 400 employees.

To support its backlog, Metal Shark also has launched a recruitment campaign to grow the workforce at all three Louisiana facilities. The company is currently hiring for all production trades and is also recruiting naval architects, project coordinators, and project engineers. In addition, the company is also offering relocation assistance for qualified welders. 

“Louisiana is steeped in boat-building tradition, it’s the home of some of our nation’s best boat builders, and we will continue to invest in our people and facilities here,” said Allard. “We’re now working to relocate additional skilled workers to Louisiana from out of state, where they can earn competitive wages for their talents while enjoying our food, culture, outdoor recreational opportunities, climate, and overall lifestyle.”

The new Avery Island facility, he added, “will reduce lead times for vessels that lie outside our mainstream production mix, with an experienced crew of boat-building professionals specializing in custom rigging and production efficiency.” 

Metal Shark has not vacated Alabama entirely. The company has retained a portion of its waterfront holdings in the state to support ongoing training, trials, and auton­omous testing.